The Schopenhauer Cure

A Novel

Irvin D. Yalom

To my community of older buddies who grace me with their friendship, share life`s

inexorable diminishments and losses, and continue to sustain me with their wisdom and

dedication to the life of the mind: Robert Berger, Murray Bilmes, Martel Bryant, Dagfinn

Follesdahl, Joseph Frank, Van Harvey, Julius Kaplan, Herbert Kotz, Morton Lieberman,

Walter Sokel, Saul Spiro, and Larry Zaroff.


1Julius knew the life–and–death homilies as well as…

2«Hello, is this Philip Slate?»

3Union Street was sunny and festive. The clatter of silverware…

41787—The Genius: Stormy Beginning and False Start

5Leaving Philip`s office, Julius felt stunned. He gripped the banister…

6Mom and Pop Schopenhauer—Zu Hause

7At five minutes to seven Julius knocked out the ashes…

8Halcyon Days of Early Childhood

9Julius`s spacious Pacific Heights home was far grander than any…

10The Happiest Years of Arthur`s life

11Philip`s First Meeting

121799—Arthur Learns about Choice and Other Worldly Horrors

13Jerking his head to dislodge the annoying couplet from his…

141807—How Arthur Schopenhauer Almost Became a Merchant

15Pam in India

16Schopenhauer`s Main Woman

17At the start of the next meeting all eyes were…

18Pam in India (2)

19Bonnie opened the next meeting with an apology. «Sorry to…

20Foreshadowings of Pessimism

21At the onset of the following meeting, just as Bonnie…

22Women, Passion, Sex

23Bonnie`s concern about the group proved unfounded: at the next…

24Philip walked for hours after the meeting, past the Palace…

25Porcupines, Genius, and the Misanthropist`s Guide to Human Relationships

26At the next meeting Gill plunked himself down, his huge…

27After the session the group gathered for about forty–fiveeir…

28Pessimism as a Way of Life

29«I`d like to continue where we left off,” said Julius,…

30When the group left, Julius watched them walk down his…

31How Arthur Lived

32Julius entered the group room the following week to an…

33Suffering, Rage, Perseverance

34As time raced by, Julius looked forward with increasing anticipation…


36Pam opened the next meeting. «I`ve got something to announce…

37Leaving the group room did not clear the muck from…

38In the following meeting Philip shared neither his frightening experiences…

39Fame, at Last

40Members filed in for the penultimate meeting with contrasting feelings:…

41Death Comes to Arthur Schopenhauer

42Three Years Later










Every breath we draw wards off

the death that constantly

impinges on us.... Ultimately

death must triumph, for by

birth it has already become

our lot and it plays with its

prey only for a short while

before swallowing it up.

However, we continue our life

with great interest and much

solicitude as long as

possible, just as we blow out

a soap–bubble as long and as

large as possible, although

with the perfect certainty

that it will burst.


Julius knew the life–and–death homilies as well as anyone. He agreed with the

Stoics, who said, «As soon as we are born we begin to die,” and with Epicurus, who

reasoned, «Where I am, death is not and where death is, I am not. Hence why fear

death?» As a physician and a psychiatrist, he had murmured these very consolations

into the ears of the dying.

Though he believed these somber reflections to be useful to his patients, he never

considered that they might have anything to do with him. That is, until a terrible moment

four weeks earlier which forever changed his life.

The moment occurred during his annual routine physical examination. His

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